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March 31, 2023

Title:  USGS Drought Science for the Colorado River Basin: What do we have? How do we use it? and Where is the cool communication tech?

Speaker: Katharine Dahm, Senior Scientist, USGS, Rocky Mountain Region

Date: April 7 at 2:00 pm Eastern


Summary: The Colorado River Basin in the western U.S. is currently experiencing the driest 23-year period in more than 100 years and one of the driest periods in the 1,200-year paleo-record. The river supplies water to more than 40 million people in the United States and 3 million in Mexico, irrigates nearly 5.5 million acres of farmland; and related hydropower facilities provide more than 4,200 megawatts of electrical generating capacity for the western U.S. Compounding the extended dryness are increased air temperatures, resulting in earlier snowmelt, less precipitation occurring as snow, drier soils, and higher evapotranspiration. Drought impacts across the landscape include worsening conditions in nine ecoregions, habitat loss for several threatened and endangered species, increased wildland fire risks, reduced snowpack, record low reservoir levels, and impacts to the 29 Tribes for whom the basin is a physical, economic, and cultural resource. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducts a wide variety of science to improve the understanding of landscape-scale ecosystems. The Colorado River Basin: Actionable and Strategic Integrated Science and Technology (ASIST) project is accelerating interdisciplinary science and application of advanced technology for complex stakeholder driven challenges in the Colorado River Basin. A central priority for USGS is integration of new technology to improve the findability of USGS science related to the impacts of drought, climate change, and other drivers of change across the landscape. This presentation will describe high-impact USGS science currently conducted, how science questions are becoming more complex across the landscape, actions to bring together resources to help find solutions, and where new technology is being leveraged to improve communications of available science.

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